Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New polymers for cell management

The ability to manipulate cells is of utmost importance in terms of medical research. Transfection, the process by which this is achieved, is set to become more efficient and available thanks to a new polymer synthesis.
New polymers for cell management
Cell transfection involves the implementation of nucleic acids into cells, thus allowing their manipulation. This is achieved by attaching the nucleic acid to a polymer to form a complex, which can enter cells. In order to improve existing processes, a new polymer based on nucleic acid and polylysine has been prepared and a method for its use in cell transfection in experimental and clinical use developed.

Effective cell entry requires cationic, or positively charged, particles. To meet this demand the new polymers contain NH3+ groups. This charge provides a cooperative interaction between the polymer and the nucleic acid, forming a highly water soluble complex. Once this complex is inside the cells, the charge is reduced, releasing the nucleic acids inside the cells. Furthermore the presence of ligands allows the complex to target specific cells or tissues making the process highly effective.

Compounds made with this new polymer have been found to be as efficient or more efficient than existing compounds. The compounds are highly stable and therefore allow the transfection of a large amount of nucleic acid. The toxicity is also very low since the amount of polymer required is low due to the ability to attach the complex to specific cells. By the same token the efficiency of transfection is increased.

Currently a prototype is available for testing. The polymer can be used to transfer nucleic acid to any kinds of cells, in particular mammalian cells and non-adherent cells. It can also be used for laboratory research or clinical purposes.
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